There are several kitchen tools that I use every day But I have found when I cook in other folks kitchens, which happens surprisingly frequently, I am wishing I had brought my own kind of doctor’s kit with me. My only fear is that it would never fit properly into a leather bag, and have an undesirable effect on my gas mileage, so I haven’t put one together yet…
I have spent many years acquiring my kitchen arsenal and to be honest, most of my best stuff was picked up at thrift stores and garage sales and professional kitchen supply stores. Not fancy mall places, but strip mall stores where regular restaurant kitchens buy their stuff. They are open to the public and priced for use, not decoration!
long metal tongs- used for grilling, flipping stuff in a hot pan, tossing salad, basically an extension of your own arm
sharp kitchen knife- pick one up at a kitchen supply store along with a simple sharpening wand- they can be sharpened on the bottom of a ceramic coffee cup in a pinch!
cast iron skillet- Lodge is the best brand, but you can frequently find them at thrift stores, antique stores and garage sales. Look for one that has a smooth cooking surface and no cracks. Keep it seasoned by rubbing a little oil into it after each washing. I wash in really hot water with an abrasive scrubber and minimal soap to keep the seasoning in longer.
large stainless cook pot- these can be spendy. The only real money I have spent on kitchen items (besides the espresso machine) was on really nice stainless cook pots but you can get cheaper ones if you look around. Or, you can hint around to your loved ones that you would like one for Christmas! Go for one with a heavy bottom for better heat distribution.
large frying pan- get one with a lid. Take your existing one to goodwill and find one that fits it, do whatever you have to, short of stealing, to make this happen.
pepper mill- is a must have. you can get one for 15 bucks at Target or Macy’s or Fred Meyer or anywhere that sells kitchen stuff. Just say no to pre-ground pepper!
slim metal spatula- slim is better than thick, so if you are going to have one, make it slim, although I occasionally want a smaller thick one for certain uses
long handle metal spoons, slotted and regular- I use these for cooking anything that is getting mixed around in a pan from veggies to stewed meats to soups and they are good multitaskers for serving
microplane- I am not sure how I survived before I discovered this essential tool! My microplane gets so much use I think I will need a new one before summer is over
box grater- get one with large grate and small grate. I have never successfully used those weird extra pointy sides without hurting myself
small basket strainer- we are going to make enchilada sauce and cocktails and straining pith and seeds from lemon juice, so you’re gonna need it
citrus press- old fashioned glass counter top style with a reservoir and pouring spout. You are going to be using a lot of lemons from now on, so buy one for 5 bucks next time you go by an antique store or garage sale. Dont spend more than 5 bucks on one!
blender- I know that these aren’t cheap, but pick one up at Target (I actually need to get a new one) because it will make your life easier
thin dishtowels- these are good for spills, using as hotpads (as long as they are dry) and for keeping foods warm, to covering rising bread and squeezing liquid from things
cheese cloth- you can pick this up at any grocery store
multiple mixing bowls-if you have a set with lids, you can use them for storing leftovers, but have a wide variety of sizes to make your life easier
measuring cups- I like the pyrex kind because they can go in the microwave
Make sure you have a healthy assortment of serving platters, bowls and utensils. I like to serve any old Tuesday dinner in pretty dishes. The holidays only come around so often, so why not?
Up next, the Essential 4 ingredients and other staples to keep on hand…